Archive for the fashion Category

Target publishes its Bangladesh Factory details

Posted in advertising, business, ethics, fashion, Marketing, packaging, sustainability with tags , on August 14, 2014 by marketingheart

Many moons have passed since April 2013 when the Rana Plaza building containing three clothing factories collapsed in Bangladesh taking with it the lives of over 1100 workers, and injuring countless more – locals say the building housed around 6,000 workers. Following the collapse, activists were able to enter the ruins and discovered labels from brands including Primark and Mango, indicating that they were sourcing from the factories. Rana Plaza also produced for a host of well known brand names including Benetton, JC Penney, C&A and Wal-Mart. This collapse followed the Tazreen factory fire in the same district that killed 112 workers five months ago, and the Spectrum Factory collapse of 2005 which caused the death of at least 64 workers. Pro-labor advocates blamed the disasters not just on a lack of regulations, but on a pattern of  violent suppression of workers’ organizing efforts. Although the US imposed trade sanctions on Bangladesh to pressure them to clean up their act, progress has been disappointing. Similarly the fight to get retailers to compensate victims is perhaps predictably mired with only a third of the $40 million total needed to compensate survivors and families of the dead for lost income and medical expenses  having been contributed 12 months after the event according to the Clean Clothes Campaign.

Half the brands associated with the building’s collapse have yet to put any money at all towards compensation — at least, not publicly.

Notwithstanding that, the disaster effectively pressured retailers to be more discriminating about their supply chain, and happily the latest to publicise the results of the clean-up is Target Australia which has just published its factory list. Kudos. Oxfam Australia’s corporate accountability and fair trade adviser, Daisy Gardener, said Kmart and Woolworths had aslo joined, “in being open and accountable about exactly where its clothes are made”.

Changing consumer attitudes towards fast fashion is another thing altogether.


Role of the fashion industry in anorexia highlighted in powerful campaign

Posted in fashion, Marketing, advertising, ethics with tags , , on October 24, 2013 by marketingheart

Advertising for good cause, it’s even better when it’s this powerful. Brace yourselves….

This recent campaign comes from Brazilian modeling agency Star Models, which deserves great kudos for showing such leadership. The ads feature models photoshopped to look like a human version of the illustration style that’s almost universally used in the fashion design business. It says so much about the pervasiveness of unattainable fashion imagery and its terrible effect on some people.

Wow..any fashion designers squirming? Hope so.

Perhaps not as powerful as the real thing – the most shocking anti-anorexia campaign of all, this featuring a 28-year-old French model who was suffering from the condition at the time and tragically was to die from it soon after.

In 2006 Madrid Fashion week shocked the industry by banning unhealthily skinny models from the event, and there have later been a number of similar actions, including famously by Vogue.

Unfortunately the fashion industry isn’t always this responsible… well-known vampire Karl Lagerfeld responded to one banning by blaming the outcry on “fat mummies sitting with their bags of crisps in front of the television, saying that thin models are ugly.’  He added that the world of fashion was all to do ‘with dreams and illusions, and no one wants to see round women’.

Oh, and let’s not let the ad industry off thew hook either…

Well done to the adbuster who added the sticker.

Anxiety advertisers; how they changed the world for the worse

Posted in cosmetics, fashion, Marketing, advertising, ethics with tags , on January 13, 2013 by marketingheart

Advertising was largely built on the fine, opportunistic strategy of trading in human weakness. For almost 100 years, advertisers have honoured the tradition a) pinpoint a problem, perhaps one consumers didn’t even know they had; b) exacerbate anxiety around the problem; c) sell the cure.

Whether it’s being laughed at because you have small muscles or can’t play the piano, not being respected because your car isn’t prestigious enough, not being desired because you have hairy armpits, not being cool because your phone isn’t the latest,  or not being a good mother for oh-so-many reasons, and let’s not even mention menstruation…advertisers sure know which button to push.

Hell, they do it without even trying. Apple’s famous (and brilliant) 1984 campaign – which put them on the map – was meant to inspire. But if you were happy just being you, wouldn’t this (edited) ad copy make you second guess your happiness?…

“Here’s to … The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. … Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Oh boy, I’m clearly not aiming high enough! But not all advertisers require quite so much of us. Dove (about whom I have blogged in approval) simply suggests women need to shave their armpits in order to attain enlightenment. No, Dove say, it’s not them creating the problem, it’s them solving it: according to research cited on Dove’s website, 93% of women think their underarms are unattractive and thus may refuse to wear sleeveless clothing. So if the desire for un-natural armpits hasn’t been caused by images published by beauty advertisers like Dove, then where does it come from?

Advertisers, through this use of shame (which is of course a kind of anxiety), have changed our views, and our world. Before Listerine figured out it could sell more of its anti-septic as a cure for bad breath, there simply was no social stigma attached to it. How many billion dollars has this strategic breakthrough yielded? How has this improved our lot as a race? And in case you think the classic approach to anxiety went out with the advent of colour TV, look at the current ad for Oslo Subway.

Research has refined the use of anxiety as leverage to encourage purchase. A study of commercials for the Danonino kid-food brand found no fewer than five kinds of anxieties being prodded: anxieties linked to the responsibility for providing healthy food to support a child’s physical growth; anxieties associated with the responsibility for providing appropriate nutrients to foster a child’s intellectual development; anxieties linked to the social exclusion of a child from his/her peer group; anxieties raised due to repeated conflicts about food intake that may threaten family bonding relationships and mothers’ anxiety for not being present enough for the child due to their own busy schedules.

Rich pickings for these ‘negative’ ads, for sure. The multi-billion dollar question is: do they work better the positive ads…is the carrot or the stick more effective? Entire books and literally mountains of ad research has been done into this vexed question (eg…), and the answer, like that to many complex questions, is probably ‘it depends’.

For me, this dilemma cuts to the socio-cultural responsibilities that advertisers and marketers have, but so rarely acknowledge. Anxiety disorders are are the most prevalent mental disorders in the United States with an annual societal costs of over $42 billion dollars (source Psychology Today).

Think about it: if all those fear-inducing ads has instead used more positive messaging, would we as a global community, have amassed such an overwhelming state of anxiety? And if we hadn’t, how different would our world look to us? Has the wealth reaped by Listerine and tens of thousands of marketers like them been worth the problems now so prevalent in society?

Before we leave the topic, as ever with advertising, a strategy can work in different ways.  In this ad you literally get rid of your old head:

And, wonderfully, the ad industry can, itself exhibit obvious anxiety. Take this sugar industry response to the ‘problem’ of dieting:

The classic is this response to people’s anxieties about smoking:

For a general discussion on specifically status anxiety I highly recommend Alain de Boton’s book of the same name, or if you prefer there is a spin-off series of videos here.

Do you think anxiety advertising has changed the world?

Related articles

Wrong. Hairy and wrong.

Posted in fashion, Marketing, advertising, ethics with tags , , , on November 16, 2012 by marketingheart

Good cause. Bad taste. Poor communication. Fail. Thanks PETA…really didn’t need this.

The sexualisation of children in high fashion – here’s who’s responsible

Posted in fashion, Marketing, advertising, ethics, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 21, 2011 by marketingheart

Many thinking people are only too aware of and concerned about the creeping sexualisation of children in advertising, but the ad game’s got nothing on the fashion business when it comes to this unethical practice.

Thylane Loubry Blondeau - ten years old

It’s hard to pin down the reasons why women read magazines showing girls young enough to be their daughters doing thinks they’d be horrified to see their daughters doing. So let’s talk briefly about the perpetrators – or one example at least. I’m not going to comment here on the role of the magazine editors, instead I’ll look at photographer Terry Richardson, a frequent and sought after contributor to the likes of Vogue etc. who has shot for Tom Ford, Sisley, Gucci, Levi’s, Miu Miu and Jimmy Choo. As that list indicates,despite the fact that his shoots are uniformly erotic often playing on the edges of porn… he’s not exactly a pariah in the fashion world.

Now I’m fine with racy shoots, so long as we’re all being adult and respectful, right? (I blogged about the pornification of advertising here).
Certainly drawing lines around what’s OK and what’s not is very hard but Richardson is actually (in)famous for stepping way over them with relish.

One of Richardson’s better known muses is Linsay Wixon, who is often breathlessly described as ‘the current fashion IT girl’ by writers who lean towards such inanities. Lindsay started modelling at 14 – which is actually not uncommon.

OK so she’s young and beautiful…so what do shooters like Richardson (seen here with her) do with such youth and innocence?

Pornify it for our titillation, of course.

This does beg the question: for who’s titillation? The readers? Well, my partner reads Vogue but finds sexualised teens totally distasteful. So it’s not for her, or, one suspects many other women.

14 year old Wexon in action for Richardson

What kind of role does the photographer play in all this? Events last year threw some light on this question, as Richardson was ‘outed’ as a model abuser when supermodel Rie Rasmussen accused him of exploiting young models.

Rasmussen — a vocal advocate of women’s rights — reportedly became upset Richardson used her picture in his “Terryworld” book alongside shots of half-naked young girls depicted as performing sex acts.

“He takes girls who are young, manipulates them to take their clothes off and takes pictures of them they will be ashamed of. They are too afraid to say no because their agency booked them on the job and are too young to stand up for themselves. His ‘look’ is girls who appear underage, abused, look like heroin addicts . . . I don’t understand how anyone works with him.”

This prompted another model, 19 year old Jamie Peck, to make claims against Richardson saying she was left feeling like she needed “two showers” after a nude photoshoot with Richardson during which he stripped and got her to perform sexual favours. “I can remember doing this stuff, but even at the time, it was sort of like watching someone else do it, someone who couldn’t possibly be me because I would never touch a creepy photographer’s penis. The only explanation I can come up with is that he was so darn friendly and happy about it all, and his assistants were so stoked on it as well, that I didn’t want to be the killjoy in the room. My new fake friends would’ve been bummed if I’d said no” she said.

As the Sydney Morning Herald succinctly puts it: To sexualise children in the way that advertisers do – by dressing, posing, and making up child models in the same ways that sexy adults would be presented – also implicitly suggests to adults that children are interested in and ready for sex. This is profoundly irresponsible, particularly given that it is known that pedophiles use not only child pornography but also more innocent photos of children.

And just how does this oh-so-fashion-darling photographer, arbiter of thing stylish and tsateful wish to be presented himself? Here he is, for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy. And under his photo is a shot of his model Lindsay Wixon – modelling and in more natural mode. Make your own decision about how blurred the line is.

Above: Terry Richardson in his work attire

When men were men and copywriters were oversexed

Posted in fashion with tags , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2011 by marketingheart

Love the image, but it’s the copy that really shines…

Gimme short. Gimme sharp. Gimme punchy. Let’s make it happen, let’s get manly.

No copy, but irresistible all the same, just for fun…

More than one “MAN” in belted sweater…can’t get enough of a good thing


In a world of fake beauty, authenticity can still pack a punch.

Posted in cosmetics, fashion, Marketing, advertising, ethics, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 19, 2011 by marketingheart

Can beauty marketing be done with ethics intact? Early this millennium, a global study by Unliever’s Dove brand of over 3,200 women across 10 countries found only 2% of women would describe themselves as beautifu (it was 1% in Australia) , 68 % strongly agree that the media sets an unrealistic standard of beauty, 75 % wish the media did a better job in portraying the diversity of women’s physical attractiveness across all sizes, shapes and ages.  By coincidence my own agency was researching the issue at around the same time for a chain of cosmetic clinics, with the same results.

In response, in 2004 Dove commenced its famous campaign designed to provoke discussion and encourage debate about the nature of beauty…and of course to differentiate its products in an industry characterised by hype, artificiality and over-claim. Dove’s ‘Campaign for Real Beauty‘ incorporated and has evolved to encompass a range of online and offline campaigns as well as the establishment of the Dove Self Esteem Fund. It’s worth reviewing.

The campaign was considered brave for using ‘real’ women instead of models. How real were the real women? Debatable.  Businessweek quoted the retoucher who worked on the images “to keep everyone’s skin and faces showing the mileage but not looking unattractive.” So, despite the laudable use of different sized women, even the campaign for ‘real beauty’  published unattainable (by natural means) images of beauty.   As one commenter knowingly said “we know that no self-respecting art director (or client) is going to feature a “real” model with pock marks, day surgery or bike trip scars, and uneven skin tones – as “real” as those things are, they just don’t sell products unfortunately.”

Well, I’m not so sure. The campaign my agency launched at the same time as Dove’s also featured real women and we didn’t retouch a thing. Previously the client had been running horrible (and dishonest) ‘before and after’ ads, both sides heavily retouched, so the new approach was a big step for them. Yes, the clinics offered cosmetic procedures (non invasive eg botox etc), so arguably we were ethically compromised from the get go (depending on your views). But because (or despite) that,  we had the client agree to publish a ‘beauty manifesto’ which talked about the diversity of beauty,  the importance of self acceptance and keeping it real, and the undertaking where to never retouch images.The client promised to train clinic staff to identify and discourage serial procedure abusers. Our campaign was to incorporate a forum (pretty radical back then in the mid 2000s) where we hoped to encourage the debate about beauty. It was quite amazing to us when we became aware of Dove’s new campaign how strategically we’d come to the same place at the same time (us with a tiny fraction of Unilever’s resources of course!). The campaign launched online and in magazines:

..and the website…

Sadly the campaign was short lived. This was a brand building strategy but the client hadn’t told us how thin their funding was and they couldn’t sustain their business. We needed to add a retail dimension to the campaign, a challenge I would have relished, but we never had the chance, their business changed hands and was broken up. Would our strategy have worked given more time?

Judging by a PR analysis of Dove’s campaign, maybe so – it says the campaign returned $3 for every $1 spent.  In the first six months of the campaign, sales of Dove’s firming products increased 700 percent in Europe and in the United States, sales for the products in the advertisements increased 600 percent in the first two months of the campaign. In 2004, the first year of the campaign, global sales surpassed $1 billion, exceeding company expectations.
By the end of 2005, sales in the Asian-Pacific market increased from 19 percent to 26 percent. The press coverage has been massive; in the United States, launch coverage reached 30 million daytime television viewers via The Oprah Winfrey Show, which editorialised the campaign everyday for a week, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Today Show, The View and CNN. Engagement has also scored big: “Evolution” the viral video and the most famous execution of the campaign to date has been viewed more than 15 million times online and seen by more than 300 million people globally in various channels of distribution, including news coverage, by the estimation of Ogilvy Chairman-CEO Shelly Lazarus. (watch it if you haven’t already). Dove and Ogilvy won two Grand Prix Cannes Advertising Awards in 2007 (unprecedented). “Evolution” won Film Grand Prix and a Cyber Grand Prix. Dove won a silver IPA for effectiveness and a Grand EFFIE, which honors the most significant achievement in marketing communications effectiveness. One judge said “The judges said: “The Dove case showed the fantastic impact that marketing can have when you start with a great insight.”

Pity our guys didn’t have deeper pockets!

In a fabulous final irony, one series from the campaign  featured 50+ year olds naked under the headline “too old to be in an anti-aging ad…well this isn’t anti age, this id Pro Age”.

The campaign was not oinly banned in the US, “pro-family and women’s groups” urged a boycott of Dove products for “contributing to the sexualization of women as a commercial tool, as well as exposing children to adult nudity.” These uptight folks were also upset by some of Unilever’s campaigns for other brands (often men’s products) which were on occasion too risque for their fragile souls. Can’t win a trick these day, eh.

Still, it could be worse, as shown here in a Victoria’s Secret billboard which featured the line “Love your body”

Oh, and if you’ve seen ‘Evolution’ then add some spice with this great response (which has its own valid point to make!)